Education: A 21st Century Crucible

witchuntAt the turn of the 17th Century, there was a witch hunt.  Men and women, mostly women, were rounded up and were made to prove that they were not what others accused them of.  Lots of tests, or crucibles, if you will, were put into place to see if someone was actually a witch, and all the sorceress had to do was to admit it, and she could spend the rest of her life as a devil worshipper.  A whisper from a child, a look from a neighbor, or an absence from a meeting became grounds for inquiry or tests.  To be convicted as a witch meant you lost your life.  To admit it and bear the stigma of devil worshipper meant that you lost everything but your life. Anyone who associated with that “witch” became suspect, so everyone stayed away.  A whisper could change everything…

In the 1950s, the McCarthy Trials were the witch hunt and the political upheaval of the time. Men and women, mostly men, were taken to the court of McCarthy and put on trial.  A whisper from a child, a look from a neighbor, or an absence from a meeting, and the Communist label becomes truth. mccarthy The McCarthy Trials were akin to the Salem Witch Trials.  One could deny it or admit it, but either way, the accused lost everything but his life.  Anyone who associated with that “communist” became suspect, so everyone stayed away.  A whisper could change everything…

The crucible is a vessel that is able to withstand violent chemical reactions, or a test or trial.  Education has become a crucible on many levels, but the one that has become the most used today is the test, the trial:  one where a student lays claim that a teacher said something, or did something, or wrote something.  There is an investigation, and even if the teacher is proven innocent, it is game…over.  A whisper from a child, and an educator’s career has effectively ended.   Even if he keeps his job, how will he be able to do his job with the stigma of being…a Witch? A Communist? An Activist? A Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, Republican-Democrat-Libertarian, Gay-Straight-Bi, Man-Woman-Mom-Dad-vegetarian-pescatarian-unapologetic carnivore…fill in the blank.

And anyone who associates with that teacher becomes suspect, too, so everyone stays away.  A whisper could change everything…

When a child accuses a teacher of something “unspeakable”, no matter what it may be, the teacher is in the crucible for the rest of his or her life, whether it is true or not true; whether the teacher is guilty or innocent. A whisper from a child, and a career is over.

A whisper…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.